Seven Chief Ministers are skipping the NITI Aayog Council meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi today. Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has cited health reasons for not attending, and Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has not given any specific reason for his absence.
Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the PM on Friday, announcing his boycott of the meeting over the Centre’s recent ordinance, and charged that cooperative federalism in the country was being turned into a “joke”. The controversial ordinance by the BJP-led Centre effectively cancels a May 11 Supreme Court order that granted the Delhi government executive control over the bureaucracy.
Punjab’s Bhagwant Mann has written a note to the Centre saying it’s not paying attention to Punjab’s interests, which is why he will boycott the meeting. In the previous meeting, in August last year, the Chief Minister had raised the issues of Rural Development Fund (RDF), stubble burning, and farmers’ concerns which he says the Centre paid no attention to. Calling it a mere “photo session”, Mr Mann in his note has said there’s no use in participating in the meeting until pending issues have been addressed.
Three other prominent Opposition leaders — Telangana’s K Chandrashekar Rao, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar — who have been trying to stitch together a grand united Opposition front to counter the BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha elections, are also skipping the meeting.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut has said if non-BJP Chief Ministers are boycotting the meeting, it means the Centre is not treating them properly. “Whoever is not obeying the Centre, the NITI Aayog is not listening to their demands,” he said.
PM Modi will chair the eighth governing council meeting of NITI Aayog on Saturday on the theme of ‘Viksit Bharat @2047: Role of Team India’ at the new Convention Centre in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
As the chairman of NITI Aayog, PM Modi will preside over the meeting. He will deliberate on issues related to health, skill development, women empowerment and infrastructure development, with an aim to make India a developed nation by 2047.